The one thing about summer that totally bums us — besides our air conditioner's rather finicky behavior — is that it's just not a good time to eat a big, steaming bowl of hot soup. Sure, it seems silly to scorn an entire season for one meal, but we really, really love soup. And as soon as there's a nip in the air and leaves on the ground, we can hardly wait to trade in our swimsuits for sweaters and curl up with a warm bowl of liquid love. Add to that the wonderful bounty that comes from Middle Tennessee farms at this time of year, and well, you've got yourself some goodness.
Our favorite autumnal medley recipe — roasted butternut squash soup — came to us the same way a lot of our meals materialize: staring into a half-empty refrigerator, looking at the last of our CSA share and asking, "What in the hell are we supposed to make with this random stuff?" Two beautiful butternut squash, a few sweet potatoes, a red onion and a quart of cream from JD Country Milk hardly look like a meal when they're sitting all lonely-like in an empty icebox, but thanks to some cosmic inspiration and a Cuisinart, they've turned into one of our family's best-loved fall meals.
ingredients:2 butternut squash
First, cut the squash in half and and take out all the seeds and stringy stuff, then peel it and cube it. Cube the sweet potatoes — you can peel them if you want, but why waste all that flavor? — and cube the onion. Throw it all in a roasting pan, drizzle a bit of olive oil over it and pop it into the oven at 450 degrees for 45 minutes. Let your veggies cool, bust out your food processor and start pureeing, adding the cream as you go. Once your veggies have been blended to a thick, smooth consistency, pour it into a pot. Add a pinch of nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste, and let it simmer for an hour. Then gather the whole famn damily for a warm and delicious fall meal. Sweaters optional. Recipe courtesy of SEAN L. MALONEY
• Sept. 25: Cupcake-palooza
The cupcake craze in Nashville has settled down a bit, but happily, it has given our city a number of fine cupcake purveyors. Cupcake Collection, CuppyCakes, Painted Cupcake, Cakes by Shara, Grins and Fido will serve up miniature versions of their cupcakes for this event, which benefits the Books From Birth of Middle Tennessee program. Fido hosts, with sister cafe Grins providing vegan cupcakes. Kids are more than welcome at the event (there will be an activity table to keep them busy), and for grown-ups, Fido will serve up their Bongo Java coffee to complement the cakes. Door prizes include a $75 fondant class from SweetWise Baking and a $25 gift certificate to Dulce Desserts. 5: 30 p.m. at Fido.
• Sept. 24-25: Southern Fried Festival
This old-timey fall fest is back for its 15th year in downtown Columbia, and food is a big part of its appeal. In addition to vendors serving up delicacies fried Southern-style, there's a Cooking Challenge that will pit restaurant chefs and local foodies against one another to prove who's got the goods when it comes to Southern cooking. The fest also has music on four stages, a scarecrow contest and kids' activities. Southernfriedfest.com
• Sept. 25: Wine on the River
Every year wine lovers convene on the Shelby Street Pedestrian bridge (3 p.m.) to sample vintages from around the world. This year the theme is even more global: a world tour showcasing 10 wine-growing regions on five continents. (Asia and Antarctica aren't yet known for producing wine.) wineontheriver.com.
• Oct. 16: Tennessee Beer Festival
This new event (not to be confused with the Music City Brewers' Fest downtown in July) will take place at noon on the park-like grounds of Two Rivers Mansion in Donelson. The organizers say around 25 breweries will be represented, serving samples of 100 different beers. Tnbeerfestival.com.
• Nov. 5: Wine Down Main Street
This wine tasting and festival in Franklin is in its 10th year and hugely popular. Thousands will stroll the streets of downtown, sampling wine and food and checking out the shops for idea as the holidays approach. All proceeds benefit the Boys & Girls Club of Franklin/Williamson County and Fairview Boys & Girls Club.
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